Nipplegate Spoof

Actor’s Left Nipple Breaks Records, Spawns Debate

Actor Richard Armitage found portions of his bared torso at the center of yet another fandom controversy this week with the much-anticipated release of the Digital Theatre production of his critically acclaimed performance as John Proctor in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, which was staged at The Old Vic in London’s West End and captured live on film in September 2014. The actor’s decision to remove his shirt to sold-out audiences throughout the run of The Crucible during the period referred to as “The Summer of Love”, recently came under fire when screencaps of a controversial scene in the opening of Act 2 went viral and caused an ogling epidemic in the fandom.  At the center of the latest debate, through ripped and thread-worn prison garb, peeks Richard Armitage’s Left Nipple.

With the release of the production in its entirety, many more GIFs and screencaps have emerged, several of which have allegedly interfered with viewers’ abilities to appreciate the somber subject matter as well as the talents and capabilities of Armitage as an actor. One vocal member of the fandom, a self-appointed delegate for SPOOFER (Spokespersons Policing Oglers Or Fans Exploiting Richard), who wished to remain anonymous, expressed disgust and disdain for the appalling “absence of maturity and decency, of understanding what this role, the play entails” and was deeply saddened when one screencap, obtained during the curtain call, drew undesirable attention to Armitage’s left nipple through a large rent in his costume over the pectoral area.

When the relatively small but vocal minority, SPOOFER, attempted to reign in and subdue the members of the fandom who were less than discreet in their appreciation for images of John Proctor’s left nipple, debate erupted in what is now being called the Tumblr Nipplegate Scandal. Many commenters argued that just because some fandom members had the audacity to celebrate the reappearance of the nipple in Act 4, it didn’t necessarily indicate incognizance on the part of the posters for the devastating themes of The Crucible, or the brilliance of Armitage’s portrayal in the leading role. “Proctor is supposed to be sexy, so what is wrong with acknowledging that, and throwing in some irreverent humor along the way? Puhleeze. Are the Puritans alive and well on Tumblr?”

Armitage is not the only celebrity to find himself embroiled in a so-called Nipplegate Scandal. Pop singer Janet Jackson, author of the original  Nipplegate Superbowl XXXVIII Halftime Scandal of 2004, could not be reached for comment. Jackson’s representatives, however, expressed confusion when they were told that the controversy surrounding Richard Armitage’s exposed nipple was directed not at the actor himself, but at certain factions within his fandom who drew attention to the nipple. “Where’s the outrage? When Ms. Jackson’s nipple was inadvertently revealed by a spontaneous wardrobe malfunction, Ms. Jackson herself was hounded and demonized! Where’s the pasty? At least Ms. Jackson’s exposed nipple was covered with a pasty onscreen and during the live performance!” Janet Jackson’s representatives do seem to have made a pertinent distinction between the 2004 and 2015 Nipplegate scandals: it is impossible to attribute Armitage’s visible left nipple to a wardrobe malfunction, when the nipple is reputed to have been exposed approximately 101 times during the run of The Crucible.

One popular Armitage blogger, recently returned from her travels, was home just in time to weigh in on the nipple controversy, and recalls seeing the nipple many a time when she attended The Crucible live performances in London on more than one occasion. The blogger openly admitted to being sidetracked throughout Act 4 when she was seated in close proximity to the nipple. “That rip was so strategically placed… I remember consciously noticing it when I sat somewhere on the right-hand side of row 2 in the main auditorium. Boy, was I distracted. But well, my grateful thanks to the costume designer,” was her comment in response to another blogger’s edit designating the outer curve of Armitage’s pectoral muscle as one of the places deemed desirous to be kissed in a popular series titled “Places I would like to kiss Richard Armitage: Just South of the Nipple Edition.” Others commented, when the image appeared on a variety of social media platforms, that the screencap was impossible to view without the eyes being drawn repeatedly to the nipple.

Perhaps the most outrageous edit of the curtain call screencap depicts SpongeBob SquarePants actively laving Armitage’s left nipple, and caused an enormous uproar on Tumblr. We contacted the cheerful square-shaped sea sponge in hope of understanding his motivation for this unexpected and completely unanticipated appearance on the London stage. SpongeBob optimistically pointed out that it’s clearly clear from Armitage’s genuinely genuine, heartwarmingly heartwarming smile in the image, that both SpongeBob and Armitage had enjoyed the moment. “That moment, there in the finest theatre establishment ever established for theatre, was a moment I’ll never forget because it’s an unforgettable moment! There we were, in the midst of the most enthusiastic standing ovation where an audience ever stood and ovulated enthusiastically!”

SpongeBob’s PR representatives, employees of Nickelodeon, issued a warning that parental discretion was advised for the character’s appearance at The Old Vic, and hastened to apologize for SpongeBob’s use of the word “ovulation” in his statement. “Listen: everyone loves SpongeBob. He’s a loveable guy. We can all agree that SpongeBob SquarePants is a squeaky clean character, and sometimes that works to his disadvantage. In his naivety, we believe SpongeBob’s reference to ‘ovulation’ was intended to convey the concept of ‘applause’ and in no way did SpongeBob intend to imply that any audience members might have ovulated during the curtain call.”

Nickelodeon went on to explain that they believe that the screencap was taken out of context, showing only a brief and repetitive image that may appear to indicate undue attention was paid to the actor’s left nipple. “Furthermore, we would like to emphasize that there was no sexual impropriety on SpongeBob’s part. This unfortunate screencap, when viewed with a jaded eye, might appear to show SpongeBob’s ministrations in an amorous context, but we must reiterate that both Richard Armitage and SpongeBob had their pants on, and SpongeBob was merely performing much-needed ablutions for the actor following an extended incarceration of his character. The harvest and usage of sea sponges to perform cleansing rituals and exfoliation has been documented throughout history, and should have no innately vulgar associations.”

Whether vulgar associations are drawn from viewing Richard Armitage’s left nipple or not, no one can deny that its performance in The Crucible has enjoyed unprecedented success. Digital Theatre reports that the left nipple has been downloaded to over 1100 cities and has resulted in record numbers of sales and record-breaking traffic on their website since the production became available on Tuesday, March 17, 2015. Reports have surfaced of would-be nipple viewers waiting up to 34 hours for their HD files to download, and the usually rapid Digital Theatre support staff has been working overtime to troubleshoot issues preventing the throngs of Armitage Admirers from viewing his nipple’s performance on the London stage.

When contacted to ask whether any priority was given to more serious theatre enthusiasts and Armitage Admirers who appreciate the actor’s talent and recognize his investment of “heart and soul to this piece of art” over those who might only have been interested in drooling over the nipple, Digital Theatre stated: “It is surprisingly difficult to make such distinctions or differentiate between our customers in this fashion. We actually encountered no references to Armitage’s Left Nipple in the queries submitted by consumers. Customers were and are being assisted on a first-come-first-serve basis, and the positive responses, when their technical issues are eventually resolved, have been astonishing.”

Reviews from both the Armitage fandom and critics alike for Yael Farber’s production of The Crucible have been overwhelmingly positive. The piece, which received an unprecedented number of 5 star reviews, has been nominated for two prestigious Olivier Awards: Best Revival, and Best Actor. It is not known whether the controversy will have any impact on the results, but many wonder if it is fair to the other nominees to have to compete against Richard Armitage’s Left Nipple.

Another Onion Article?

A Fandom Divided: Oglers Unite as Theatre Purists Decry Images of Bare-Chested Actor

The notoriously drama-filled fandom revolving around The Hobbit star Richard Armitage has found another bone of contention to pick among themselves, sources say. Pursuant to the decision to film the British actor’s recent performance as John Proctor, the tortured protagonist in Yael Farber’s critically acclaimed production of American playwright Arthur Miller’s The Crucible (staged at the Old Vic Theatre in London, 2014), many believed that the fandom, loosely known as The Armitage Army, having united its factions with unparalleled success in its efforts to obtain a DVD or other recording of the vaunted Armitage performance, would continue to present a unified image to the world. However, it would seem that The Armitage Army continues to nurse grievances among themselves that periodically explode across social media.

The latest quarrel amongst the ranks appears to revolve around the mysterious release of several images of a bare-chested John Proctor, seen down on the floor washing himself at the beginning of Act 2. We contacted a spokesperson from Puritan Farmers Cooperative, and showed him the images. “I would have to say, I can not object to these images. Without we wash at the end of a long day, we land in the barn for the night. Does not every goodwife say, ‘Come you not to my bed smelling of manure’?” Our contact found nothing scintillating about the images, although he was quick to add that he does not plow on Sundays.

However, it would seem that many members of the fandom did, in fact, find the images to be stirring. One Armitage blogger was swift to share the controversial images, and likened the experience to a hormonal conflagration. “Yes, those images caused a spontaneous ovarian combustion! I’ve seen one of the images, or something close to it, already, but these camera angles,” she said, pointing with trembling fingers to images showing Armitage’s wide shoulders, muscular back, lean torso, and a tantalizing thigh/buttock side view, “Whew. These angles are simply spectacular!” She went on to postulate that the images might in fact be dangerous to reproductive health. “There is such a syndrome as Spontaneous Ovarian Hyperstimulation, you know.”

As of press time, representatives from the National Institutes of Health could not be contacted to answer whether these images might in fact be useful in the treatment of infertility in women, and the Armitage blogger was hesitant to postulate as to the effectiveness of Richard Armitage’s bare torso for the purposes of improving conception rates for struggling couples. “Whoa, now. I’m a veterinarian. I might be able to answer your questions about fertility in bitches, and I may occasionally refer to Armitage images jokingly as good medicine, but I’m not qualified to offer any sort of treatment plan for other women.”

Medicinal uses aside, many Armitage admirers appeared to seek sensual gratification by viewing the images. “It’s a rough job, but someone has to objectify him,” commented a preeminent Armitage blogger, viewing with satisfaction one of her own edits. The busy image depicts twelve locations on John Proctor’s exposed upper body that the blogger would like to kiss, and prompted many blog commentators to point out other areas that they felt were additionally deserving of collective smooching attentions. This post spawned further debate as to the definition of a widow’s peak amongst the fandom, so we contacted the Hairline Consultation Hotline, whose experts were familiar with Armitage’s work.

“While Thorin Oakenshield does show a prominent widow’s peak, it is our conclusion that his hairline was in fact achieved by use of a very convincing hairpiece. Upon review of images of Richard Armitage as himself and as John Proctor, most hairline pundits agree that he does not sport a widow’s peak. The traditional understanding of a widow’s peak is most certainly a V-shaped point in the center of the forehead. I would place celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe and Leonardo DiCaprio much higher on the widow’s peak spectrum than I would place Richard Armitage.” When asked to discern the V-shaped area of hairline that the blogger wished she could kiss, the hairline expert readily identified the disputed area as a receding temple, and remarked, “Mr. Armitage here is a lovely example of why a receding temple is not always an unattractive feature of a hairline. The sharp, almost dramatic points of his receding temples add interest to an otherwise rather humdrum hairline.”

When the controversial wash basin images were shared on Richard Armitage appreciation pages on Facebook, however, they were met in some cases with derision and incredulity. Taking down the images and citing her reluctance to circulate “beefcake screengrabs” prior to every fandom member first viewing the much-anticipated release of the Digital Theatre download of the Yael Farber/Richard Armitage collaboration, one Facebook administrator pleaded with disgruntled members to show respect for Farber and Armitage. Urging everyone to first watch, and register the pivotal themes and solemn subject matter, the administrator unwittingly stirred the pot in a fandom troubled by fears of internal policing amongst their ranks.

“You do realize that he took his shirt off approximately 101 times during the run of The Crucible, right?” wrote yet a third blogger, incredulous that the images of the “half-nekkid” actor should have been at the center of yet another fandom “dust-up”. Arguing that Richard Armitage not only knows exactly what he’s about, but appreciates occasional raunchy humor, including dick jokes, the blogger opined that Richard Armitage should be allowed to draw his own boundaries. A review of tweets from the actor himself seems to validate the blogger’s assertion. Not only dick jokes, but a flurry of scatological humor was discovered in a review of Armitage’s hashtags, which are widely accepted to have proceeded forth from the actor himself on many occasions, and have resulted in the actor’s followers topping 100,000.

When contacted to ask whether he intended to share scatological humor and dick jokes with his Chinese followers on Weibo, Richard Armitage declined to make any promises, but he did mutter that he didn’t understand how his foreskinned penis had anything to do with any of it. It is surmised that Armitage may have been referring to yet another blog post, whose author chimed in by implicating that the beleaguered anti-ogling faction was in fact akin to Judge Hathorne, the judge who presided over the Salem Witch trials, in their efforts to subdue the fandom’s reaction to the shirtless images of John Proctor. Yael Farber was also contacted for comment, and her representatives categorically denied any knowledge of Armitage’s foreskinned penis, but did confirm that Farber was aware of the actor’s actions while removing his shirt approximately 101 times during The Crucible run, and indicated that this would not hinder her decision to collaborate with Armitage in the future.

 

 

Reflections on Recent Fandom Drama

shoulder

Richard Armitage as John Proctor, shirtless, The Crucible official poster, Old Vic Theatre, London, 2014

 

The post that caused recent uproar:

“Folks, as the creator of this page, I had and *have* a vision: to 1) celebrate RA’s *performance* in The Crucible, and 2) to show respect for Yael Farber’s astonishing production of Arthur Miller’s masterpiece (staged at The Old Vic in the summer of 2014).
PLEASE, respect these two things.
The play is not about a shirtless RA, shots which occur for brief moments in a 3.5 hour-play
Rather, The Crucible is a play about hysteria, mob-thought and mob-violence against good, innocent people, and it is about integrity.
So, these bare-chested shots of RA seen elsewhere will have to wait until after the download has been released in the States, and most of us have seen the entire play, and registered its powerful and timely message.”

And her comment under the post:

“… What can I say? I’m a theater purist. I like a shirtless RA as much as the next person, but it seems a shame that these “beefcake” screen-grabs are the first to make the rounds. I have a home-school subscription to Digital Theatre Plus (sharing with small groups of local students, and a teacher or parent, through screenings in my living room). The Crucible is one of those plays that so powerful and so stunning – especially this production – and Miller includes so many heart-breaking, beautiful, terrible, horrifying, and/or poignant moments that I’m just sad to see these shots come out before those…” Richard Armitage US, Facebook, ‘Richard Armitage in THE CRUCIBLE’ Appreciation Page

Hmmm.

Maybe she didn’t intend to sound condescending, but what I felt, upon reading this, was this: Those of you who have shared, stared at, discussed, enjoyed, or drooled over the screencaps of shirtless John Proctor have completely failed to not only admire RA’s critically acclaimed performance in the role, but even to comprehend or appreciate the important themes in Miller’s work. So shame on you.

I also didn’t quite understand, from this post, whether she meant that after the download has been released, will we, the oglers, then be allowed to appreciate, share, stare at, discuss, enjoy, and drool over the screencaps of shirtless John Proctor? After we’ve contemplated the deeper, disturbing messages, that is? How long should we spend on our contemplation before it is ok to appreciate the shirtless Proctor? Or should that be never? Perhaps that scene should, in fact, be cut. Maybe it was a mistake on Yael Farber’s part to add such a distraction into the mix.

The truth is, I 100% agree with her assessment that the production was stunning, heartbreaking, beautiful, terrifying and all the rest. Indeed, I was not myself for a couple of months after I saw The Crucible performed three times. I was profoundly moved by the play, devastated even, and couldn’t get any part of it out of my head. I couldn’t get involved in a new book, I had little interest in TV or movies, and those deep themes and disturbing subject matter haunted me. The fact that I can now look upon John Proctor’s form in the firelight, and appreciate the rough, masculine elegance of a farmer, washing, does not reflect poorly on my understanding of The Crucible, or in any way diminish its powerful message. On the contrary, the moment I saw the images, I was taken back to those moments, in London, when I watched him, in all his vulnerability, perform this scene. I experienced that intimacy, and the shaky, light-headed, breathless feelings that it effected in me, anew.

Yes, he’s powerfully attractive. Yes, my ovaries combusted. So, apparently, did Abigail Williams’ ovaries, at some point. John Proctor was (to his ultimate shame and regret) a sexual creature. Ironically, the washing scene was actually one of the least sexually charged moments, in terms of on-stage chemistry. This scene did allow the audience a chance to appreciate John Proctor’s form, and his appeal, yes. But it also set the stage for the Act 2, in which we see John Proctor’s reality in the privacy of his own home. He puts the shirt back on, you see. He is vulnerable, and alone, as he washes. When his wife enters the room, with coldness and a hint of accusation in her tone, he puts the shirt back on, and with it, the weight of his struggling marriage.

At any rate, I don’t have a problem with Richard Armitage US controlling what is posted on a page she created. It is her prerogative whether or not she allows images of shirtless John Proctor to be ogled, discussed, admired on her page. However, I do think she might reflect on her own words a bit. She states that the purpose of her page is:

1) to respect RA’s ” *performance* “: Huh. I must say that I did admire his performance in that scene… he embodied the exhausted, hard-working, lonely farmer completely, from his posture, to his facial expressions, to the little noises he made as he washed… and yes, I did also admire his form… what’s not to love? Is the fact that he took his shirt off a problem here? Can he not perform as well without his shirt? Enlighten me!

2) and also to respect “Yael Farber’s astonishing production of Arthur Miller’s masterpiece”: So… was Yael Farber somehow not involved with or aware of the inclusion of the wash basin scene- did her vision for the production not include the audience’s inevitable appreciation for the stripped-down farmer? Was there no purpose, from Yael Farber’s perspective, for that scene? Should looking at the screencaps of that scene therefore diminish our respect for Yael’s work?

In other words, why should our appreciation of and discussion of the shirtless scene be automatically disrespectful, or somehow minimize the impact of the production as a whole? It honestly makes very little sense to me. I agree, The Crucible is not just about a shirtless RA. But is the admiration of a shirtless John Proctor really disrespectful, or indicative of a failure to appreciate Miller’s themes, or the ensemble’s performance? Is it necessary to prescribe for other fans what facets of The Crucible are acceptable to appreciate, and in what order we should appreciate them?

I say no.